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Anna’s Birthday Cake

Anna’s Birthday Cake

A few years ago I dreamed the flavor combos of this chocolaty cake and whipped cream layers. I decided to make it for my sister, Anna’s, birthday. She loved it so much she now request it every year! It’s a delightfully light and airy cake with a soft, close crumb, tall cake layers, and overall the cake is soft, creamy, and tastes super chocolatey. The fresh and not too sweet whipped cream layers create the perfect balance. It also makes a perfect Valentine's Day indulgence.
 ❤️.
Made with Amore,
Elena

INGREDIENTS (courtesy of The Flavor Bender)

Cake:

Extra butter and cocoa powder and parchment paper for the pans

½ cup boiling water

2.6 oz Dutch cocoa powder (¾ cup)

1 cup chilled buttermilk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

10.5 oz AP flour (2 ½ cup AP flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

10 oz unsalted butter softened (2 ½ sticks)

1 lb white sugar (2 ¼ cups)

½ tsp kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 small jar Nutella to spread on cake layers

 

Whipped cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream whipped with an electric mixer and sweetened to desired taste (I don’t like it too sweet so just a few tablespoons honey or sugar) add 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

 

Decoration:

1 12 pack of Ferrero Rocher chocolates to decorate the top

 

INSTRUCTIONS

CAKE

Line the bottom of three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper (using some butter to stick the paper to the bottom). Brush/rub the sides of the pan with butter as well. Dust the sides of the cake pans with Dutch cocoa powder as well. Set aside.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160-165°C).
  2. Have all the ingredients measured and ready to go.
  3. Place the hot water and cocoa powder in a jug and whisk to dissolve the cocoa powder in the water. You should have a thick and smooth paste. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla, and set aside.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together into a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Place the butter in the bowl of your mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy, at medium speed for about 2 - 3 minutes.
  6. Add the sugar and salt into the mix, and mix for a further 4 - 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Remember to scrape down the sides and the bottom to make sure that the sugar is well incorporated. Beat the butter and sugar mix further if needed (until light and fluffy).
  7. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, about 20 - 30 seconds per egg. After adding 2 eggs, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom. Start the mixer again and add the final 2 eggs. Once the final egg has been whisked well into the batter, stop the mixer and remove the bowl.
  8. The chocolate milk and flour will be mixed in by hand with a spatula.
  9. Add a generous ⅓ of the flour mix and fold it into the batter using a spatula. When the flour is mixed in half way (with some white streaks visible in the batter), add ½ of the chocolate milk mixture into the batter.
  10. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate mixture until it’s mixed in half way (with dark chocolate streaks now visible in the batter).
  11. Next, add another generous ⅓ of the flour mix and fold it into the batter using the spatula.
  12. When the flour is almost completely mixed in (some white streaks are OK at this stage), add the final bit of the chocolate milk. Fold in until almost fully mixed in (some dark chocolate streaks are also OK at this stage).
  13. Add the final bit of flour, and fold it into the batter until it’s all FULLY incorporated. You should now have a smooth chocolate cake batter, free of lumps and white flour streaks.
  14. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans - about 18.7 oz (530 g) per pan. Mix and fold the batter before measuring it into each pan.
  15. Transfer the pans into the preheated oven.
  16. The total bake time for the cakes is between 25 - 30 minutes, but make sure to rotate the cake pan once, half way through. The cakes will be done when they are springy to the touch in the center, and the sides are just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. A clean toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean at this point.
  17. Remove the cake pans from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10-15 minutes, until the cake pans can be handled.
  18. Carefully flip the cakes out of the pan, and place them on a cooling rack. When still slightly warm slather each layer generously with Nutella.

My Minestrone Soup with Yummiest No Knead Bread

My Minestrone Soup with Yummiest No Knead Bread

Every Italian family makes minestrone with their own twist depending on what vegetables are in season, what they currently have in the fridge, region of the country, and family preferences. In the winter it’s served hot or warm and in the summer room temperature or even slightly cool. It’s a staple all year around in our home. Growing up my mother usually served minestrone on Sunday’s and cleared the fridge of most veggie odds and ends. This recipe is adapted from my mother and grandmother. The smell and tastes always remind me of home no matter where I am.
Enjoy!
Made with Amore,
Elena 💗
MY MINESTRONE
INGREDIENTS
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
4 large carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
1 bunch of celery, diced
3 medium zucchini, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup of cut green beans, may use frozen
1 1/2 cups cut leaf spinach, may use frozen
1 large can diced tomatoes, 28 oz
1 can cannellini beans, 15 oz
7 cups of water (or fill the tomato can twice with water)
Salt and pepper
Toppings: fresh basil, parsley, and grated parmigiano reggiano
PREPARATION
1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium. Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery, red pepper, zucchini and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to turn golden, 5 to 8 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes; cook until some of the liquid evaporates, 1 minute. Add cannellini beans, and 7 cups water; bring to a low boil. Stir in green beans and spinach.*
3.Reduce to a simmer, and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; and basil. Serve sprinkled with parmigiano and, if using, torn basil and parsley. Drizzle with more oil, if desired.
*omit any vegetables you do not like and add any that you do! Such as: potato, cabbage, or a different variety of beans. 
NO KNEAD BREAD
-RECIPE FROM NYT MAGAZINE
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
  • 1 5/8 cups water
PREPARATION
  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack

Christmas Morning Popovers with Bear Lake Raspberry Jam

Christmas Morning Popovers with Bear Lake Raspberry Jam

We love any and all holiday traditions from all over the world! In the Davis family Christmas morning isn’t complete without hot popovers drenched in butter and homemade jam. The tradition runs deep since the 1950’s and possibly even earlier. They are surprisingly easy with few ingredients and an absolutely delightful addition to any meal- sweet or savory!
Made with Amore,
Elena 💗

Great Grandma Rhea’s Popovers

Makes 12 popovers.
Preheat oven to 425 F and place muffin pan or speciality popover pan in the oven to get hot. *very important that pan is hot when you pour in the batter*
Ingredients
2 C milk
2 C flour
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
4 tablespoons canola oil
Directions
  1. Beat all ingredients with an electric mixer or whisk until smooth (do not over mix)
  2. Take out hot muffin or popover tins and grease VERY generously with lots of butter or Crisco *important or they will stick!*
  3. Fill tins 2/3 full with prepared batter and put immediately in the oven
  4. Bake 20 minutes at 425 F and then an additional 15-20 minutes at 375 F.
  5. Take out when slightly brown. Serve warm!!

Grandma Kathy’s Bear Lake Raspberry Jam

1.  Wash, stem, and crush berries to make four level cups. Put crushed berries into a 2 or 4 quart kettle. Sift in slowly 1 package (31/2 oz.) M.C.P. Jam and Jelly Pectin and stir vigorously. (I like it a little thinner, so I sift in 3 oz.)  Set aside for 30 minutes, with occasional stirring.
2.  Add 1 cup light corn syrup. Mix well.
3.  Add 51/2 cups sugar. (If the  raspberries are sweet, I add 41/2 cups sugar.). Gradually stir the sugar into the crushed berries. Warm to 100 degrees (temperature for baby's milk) to dissolve the sugar (no hotter).
4.  When sugar is dissolved, jam is ready to eat. Makes 4 pints. Put jam in pint jars, cover with a plastic wrap folded over several times, and use an elastic to secure. Keep in refrigerator or freeze.
5. Jam will last indefinitely.
6.  For strawberries, add 1/4 cup lemon juice after sugar is dissolved. Other types of berries don't need lemon juice.
Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Brown Butter Sage

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Brown Butter Sage


🍁Chilly fall weather calls for warm and rich comfort foods. This risotto is the perfect flavor to ring in the rain and falling leaves! Enjoy. 🍂🍁

Made with Amore,
💗Elena

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 butternut squash (about 2 Cups) peeled and cut into small cubes (pre cut or frozen also works)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, or vegetable broth -add more if needed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus more for serving
*Brown butter sage recipe
 
Instructions

-Heat oven to 400 F. Place cut butternut squash on a baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle with olive oil and some of salt (1/4 tsp of salt) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown (if using frozen: first first steam in microwave to soften and then bake for 15-20 minutes). Once baked- mash half of the squash and leave the other half in cubes. 

-in a medium pot simmer chicken or vegetable stock on medium/ low heat

-In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.

-Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn't been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water. You want to end with a creamy mixture.

-Gently stir in the mashed squash and parmigiano cheese and take off heat 

Brown Butter Sage:

4 tablespoons good quality butter
5-6 fresh sage leaves

Place above ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat until butter turns dark brown color. You can also microwave 1 minute at a time until the butter turns slightly brown- careful not to burn!

After dishing up risotto in bowls pour a big spoonful of brown butter sage and add extra grated parmigiano. Yum!

Fresh Roasted Pumpkin Pie

Fresh Roasted Pumpkin Pie

Heat oven to 400 F
PIE FILLING
INGREDIENTS
2 cups of fresh roasted pumpkin purée (cut pie pumpkins in half and gut inside then roast face down on lined baking sheet at 350 F for 1 hour). I usually make extra and keep in freezer for all of pie season!
2 TBS melted and cooled butter
3 large organic eggs, room temperature
1/2 C brown sugar
1 C heavy organic cream
1 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
DIRECTIONS
Whisk pumpkin in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk in three eggs and sugar. Stir in cream and spices. OR, mix all ingredients in a stand mixer until well combined.
Martha Stewart Double Pie Crust
INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt 
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I freeze the cut butter for 15 min on a baking sheet)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed 
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
DIRECTIONS
1. Place flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some blueberry-size clumps. 
2. Beat together egg, ice water, and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture and pulse just until incorporated, about 10 times more. Squeeze a small amount of dough to make sure it holds together. If dough is too dry, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap, forming each into 1 disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
I use half of the dough for the bottom crust and the other half for decorations- as seen in picture.
COOK'S NOTES
Dough can be frozen up to 1 month.
Take cold dough out of fridge and pour in pie mixture. Add extra dough decorations now if desired.
Bake 400 F for 15 minutes then turn down to 350 F for 45 minutes.
Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream!